Have you ever been so disappointed it made you physically ill? Recently, I’ve come to a point in life where I needed to make a tough decision. With my current position in my family’s business I am in line to be the next owner, however I need to obtain an education that typically takes 5 years to accomplish with a high fail rate. As a single mother, this is simply not practical because working forty hours a week with twelve to fourteen hours of class time leads to a child care bill that’s out of this world. There really is no point in trying to keep it for me if I could convince my father to retire or sell (he’s 70yrs old). When talking to him, he remarked that he could not retire “for the clients” meaning he aims to work until death.
So, the man wants to work ‘till death; what’s the big deal? I admit, it’s very common for men of my father’s generation to follow this pattern. Truth be told, I am not only upset with him, but my mother for almost supporting the decision. She complains about little vacation time, and frequent nights alone both of which would not be a problem if we could get rid of the family business. Both complaints get brushed aside by my father whom never seems to hear my mother. To me, the business has become a burden instead of the potential it once held for my brother prior to his untimely passing. I believe that my dad refuses to see that it has become a burden; as he has built enough to step away from it and as aforementioned, I cannot maintain it. Wait, you say “but, you said your mom supports the decision, but complains?” When I had that gut wrenching conversation with my father, I questioned why not retirement- and was met with her mockery “I swallowed that pill a long time ago.”
Ultimately, I am very distressed with my family- which I admit has brought struggle in typing this blog for you. However, that’s why we are here- you to learn & understand what it is like and for me not only to get the therapeutic relief in sharing, but hopefully help you to understand what your love one might perceive something as innocent as the fear of retirement (which is part of what my father is guilty of).
If my dad were to be honest with himself, I would say that he is afraid of retirement- for many reasons. I think partially, he’s been programmed to work for so long he’s unsure of how to relax. Growing up in the 1950’s in Southern IL the youngest of a handful of children, gave birth to an incredibly conservative, devote republican mind. My father is one of the brightest, most intelligent man I know- as far as technical knowledge is concerned. What he lacks, is the capability to communicate in the civilian world outside of working interactions. For example- his relationship with my mother. While I won’t get into the finer details of their personal relationship, I will share that if I was in my mother’s shoes I wouldn’t have the strength to keep quiet the way she does. There’s something to be said about the way women were raised as she was, to support the husband- but by God if that doesn’t make her the biggest hypocrite I’ve ever met.
I was always told to stand up for myself because no one else would do it for me. This is probably why I can come across as rather abrasive, I don’t like to waste time. So, I get irate with my mother when she complains to me about her relationship. The problem is- I cannot express this anger, because she is my mother- and she deserves my respect and attention to her needs. From my father, I was taught to sacrifice for my family to give them everything they deserve. As a small business owner, he has worked tirelessly, sometimes three to four days at a time sleeping at work. He has done this to provide a good life for my mother and us kids (I have 3 siblings). The problem is now, he has enough to live comfortably now with my mom as all the kids have grown and much of their debt that would’ve been occurred when they were younger is now paid off. My mother is like much other women who go through empty nest syndrome. She now lacks that interaction that made her feel loved and needed but my father cannot sacrifice what he has grown to known and love, what has become a foundation for our family to grow- to help her as she transitions from mother to grandmother.
So now that you might understand how I view what is happening around me, let me express how that’s played with the PTSD & what I wish my boyfriend would’ve picked up on. First, living this stressful time with my parents reminds quite a bit of being helpless. With the helplessness comes rage that fuels the rest of the emotional rollercoaster. What should I do to help protect my mom? How can I get my dad to transition from working? Can I teach him to become the support I see my mother needs? Will he learn? Does he even care? What about his needs? Is this all because he’s afraid this is the only thing he has left? I cannot stand to support the way that they live, but I cannot criticize their way of life because I’m “too young to understand.” For me- the only option is to get away. It’s taken me a very long time to get here & I have sacrificed much to let them continue their way of life years after my brother has passed on. Unfortunately, they do not see what they are doing is not good for either one of them. I love my parents dearly and for a long time believed I owed them everything because I am adopted. My biological parents were both addicted to drugs and not ready to be parents. My life could’ve been much worse.
I needed him to see that. Without me telling him. I needed for him to see that I couldn’t deal with what was going on and understand that I needed support. However, as a high-stress functioning individual- I am currently taking online classes, planning fitness routines for potential clients once I graduate, working on logos, slogans- all for when I graduate, and still working. You must fight for what you want, with two children depending on me, I’m giving it all I got. However, I am met with resistance because personal training is a physical industry dominated by the male population. Of course, he’s not comfortable, of course any boyfriend who cares would be leery of this career switch- currently, I sit behind a desk. Patience & perseverance, hold onto your dreams survivors. Although the ones around us don’t necessarily understand- they do still love us.